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Unexceptionalism: A Primer.


That would be the title of E.L. Doctorow's fierce opinion piece in the New York Times.  That the piece appeared in the Times is in itself fairly astonishing.  True voices of the real left (rather than milquetoast centrists) are mostly excluded from all the polite places such as rowdy political commentary and political television shows and the pages of the New York Times or the Washington Post (once great newspapers, the both of them, and I hope they will return to such a status).

The same distinction applies to gender debates.  Those debates can have the most extreme conservative views, sure, but they cannot have a single militant feminist or even an actual liberal feminist (someone who has studied history and theory and so on).

These exclusions distort the debate.  The allowable extremism at the conservative end is much further out than the allowable extremism at the liberal end.  This makes the "center" skip happily rightwards.

Thus, I welcome this opinion piece.  We need these debates wider than they have allowed to be.

But I'm not sure whether I like the idea of American exceptionalism or the exceptionalism of any particular country, because once Americans, say, think of themselves as exceptional then there's nothing that could be learned from other countries! 

The wheel must be reinvented, again and again.  Nope, the fact that single-payer systems work in health care in other countries (Canada, say) is irrelevant, because we Murkans are exceptional! 


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